Burglar stole keys from Leigh Park convenience store and returned for late-night £5,000 tobacco raid – but was recognised on CCTV

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A HAPLESS burglar who was caught on CCTV stealing £5,000 worth of tobacco from a Havant shop but failed to admit his offence was warned by a judge: ‘You can expect custody.’

Heroin addict Peter Billinger, 44, performed a reconnaissance mission on the Stop & Shop in Middle Park Way, Havant, with two others before ambusing the store.

The Scales of Justice

The Scales of Justice

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how career criminal Billinger went to the store the day before the burglary and stole keys.

Prosecutor Rob Welling told the court: ‘This was a planned burglary where the defendant along with two others went to the store during the day and stole keys to the shop.

‘They then went back to the store in the early hours just before 2am where they stole £5,000 worth of tobacco products before fleeing.’

Despite being caught on CCTV, Billinger still attempted to deny his role in the burglary. ‘During police interview he just said “no comment” despite him being seen on CCTV showing him carrying out the burglary,’ Mr Welling said.

Gary Venturi, defending, said Billinger had ‘buried his head in the sand’ over his crime before deciding to come clean.

He told the court his latest offence was not among the worst he had committed during his lengthy career of crime.

‘He has a long record of offending for more serious crimes including in 2002 when he was sent to jail for four years for a number of dwelling burglaries and other matters of dishonesty,’ Mr Venturi said.

The barrister added: ‘Mr Billinger has been struggling as a heroin user for a long time. His usage now is minimal compared to what it was before.’

Mr Venturi’s plea for probation to carry out a report on Billinger was accepted by judge Timothy Mousley QC.

Billinger, who pleaded guilty to burglary and who had breached his bail after failing to appear at a previous hearing, was remanded in custody to appear at his sentencing on June 14.

Judge Mousley warned the burglar: ‘This is a serious offence. Immediate custody is among the options that will be given following the report and you must expect that.’